The peak body for higher education in Australia, Universities Australia has released several recommendations, calling for a hardship fund to provide more support to international students. It has also asked the Australian government to upgrade the existing hardship funds in order to meet the needs of international students amid the COVID-19 crisis.
UA pointed out that Australian universities have assisted international students through various support programmes, established specifically to support them during the pandemic.
The universities provided $110 million to over 75,000 international students in need between March and June 2020 — a time when cost-saving measures were taken to deal with pressure on university finances. UA further mentioned that the funds are quickly exhausting and students requiring assistance are still on the rise.
International students generate AUD$40 billion every year, out of which $17.3 billion goes as fees for universities and other educational institutions and the remaining $22.8 billion is allocated to local economies.
While international students have faced challenges due to international travel restrictions, many of them with temporary visas have also been excluded from the country’s social security system, resulting in enormous hardship.
Stressing on Australia’s reputation as a popular study abroad destination, UA has highlighted that more efforts need to be made to attract more international students and ensure that Australia remains a welcoming place for them.